Alexakis sees better days for ASE in 2003 Athens Stock Exchange (ASE) Chairman Panayiotis Alexakis yesterday predicted that 2003 will be a much better year for the stock market. Speaking at the Money Show in Thessaloniki, he said he based his optimism on listed firms’ nine-month results and the prospects for the ASE «to become more competitive in relation to other bourses and to alternative forms of investment.» Alexakis said the ASE has duly followed other markets in requiring measures that boost confidence and transparency among listed firms, such as corporate governance and international accounting standards. Efforts in this direction will continue in the domain of small-capitalization firms, he said. AGET Heracles plant standoff reaches climax The General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) is making efforts to resolve a standoff which has led to the shutdown of the AGET Heracles cement plant in Halkida, northeast of Athens. The company closed the factory last Thursday, two days after cement truck drivers, who are employed on a contract basis and have a union of their own, went on strike in protest against the termination of the contracts of two of their colleagues. AGET Heracles said it was shutting down the plant to ensure the safety of personnel and equipment and ended the contracts of a further 37 drivers. Meanwhile, plant workers proper have continued to turn up for work and said they would not follow management’s instructions. Management retorted by dismissing the plant’s union leader, Giorgos Hadzidionysiou, which is subject to special adjudication, scheduled for January 13. Standing differences with respect to overtime work and conditions of hygiene and safety have been exacerbated by the issue of the hiring of 69 additional technicians and engineers, in which the union has demanded a say and has scheduled a formal one-day warning strike and a general meeting tomorrow. GSEE appeared to reprimand the union, saying in a statement that «the unions must take care to abide by laws and contracts and consult with management, which has the ultimate responsibility for the running of the enterprise, within the bounds of good will.» Deputy Development Minister Christos Theodorou, who is a local MP, urged the immediate reopening of the plant after consulting with management yesterday. Veropoulos Greek supermarket chain Veropoulos on Friday inaugurated a 3.7-hectare, 7.3-million-euro shopping mall, Super Vero, in Belgrade. The group, which has plans for expansion into the Balkans, already has six branches in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and projects turnover from its foreign operations to rise to 31 million euros this year from 25.8 million last year. PPC The Public Power Corporation (PPC) workers’ union (GENOP) has scheduled a one-day warning strike on Friday, in support of demands for a new pay structure, further hirings of technical staff and the greater liberalization of the power market under the existing legal framework which, it says, is threatened by the proposals of the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE). Cars The number of new cars in circulation fell 4.7 percent to 264,360 in the January-November period, year-on-year. The fall was 8.1 percent in November.